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Fred Frith / Stevie Wishart / Carla Kihlstedt: The Compass, Log, and Lead

Glenn Astarita By

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In the course of guitarist/composer and consummate improviser Fred Frith's extensive discography, many of us have grown accustomed to being sensitized for expecting the unforeseen. With this release, recorded at a studio in Oakland, California, the trio casts a homespun edge to avant-garde stylizations. Violinist Carla Kihlstedt also uses a Swedish folk instrument known as the nyckelharpa. Electronics artist Stevie Wishart boosts the session with a hurdy-gurdy, which is a string instrument that uses a rosined wheel in lieu of a bow. Frith's improvised jazz/folk permutations steer the proceedings into an organic gala with a bevy of abstracts and roots-derived melodies.

The trio generates an intimate alliance of sorts, complete with chamber-like passages and nimbly transmitted harmonic developments. And the band's nouveau vibe complements its sense of antiquity during these twelve mesmerizing works. Moreover, Wishart's subliminal effects-based treatments provide a mark of detection that looms as a time stamp for future generations. It substantiates the modernism, yet counterbalances the musicians' very artistic manner of integrating a historically-minded muse into their music.

Recommended listening.

Track Listing: Time Comes Presto; A Beautiful Thing To Forget/Far ej Tackas; Look At Shy Go; Dog-Eared; I Am Buffalo Bill Today; Initially This; Postcard From The Back; I Am Map; Abstract Expressionism; Dream As A Means; Aller Retour; Time Goes Largo.

Personnel: Fred Frith: acoustic guitar, lowry organ, violin (4); Carla Kihlstedt: violin, nyckelharpa; Stevie Wishart: hurdy-gurdy, electronics, violin (4).

Title: The Compass, Log, And Lead | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Intakt Records

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